This new addition to the England Rugby Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme was part of recognising volunteers with a range of exclusive rewards.

Led by the RFU’s professional game match officials team, the two-day sessions, which are held after every Aviva Premiership weekend, were attended by volunteers who shadowed professional referees during their regular training and review days. The volunteers observed game review sessions where professional referees dissected decisions made in matches the previous weekend to reflect, discuss choices as a team and identify opportunities to continue learning and developing as a unit.

Strength and conditioning coaches put the professional referees through their paces in the gym during two-hour sessions each day, watched by the volunteers, who then joined a touch rugby session with the professionals. This saw them working as a team on coherence, and focused on the competitive side of refereeing. During the two days there were also meetings with television match officials, coaching staff and a behind the scenes tour of the stadium.

Harvey Knight, from Loughborough University, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity and I feel honoured to have been put forward to attend. The access we had was unbelievable and I have learnt so much. The attention to detail and honesty of the team is commendable and they made me feel like a part of the process. I hope to take what I have learned into my refereeing career.”

Dean Crossley from Basingstoke RFC and Hampshire RFU added: “The meetings at Twickenham were hugely informative and went into the sort of detail no fan or amateur could ever imagine. The professional referees are incredibly down to earth and made us all feel really welcome. The opportunity to play touch was a great chance to see how the group work together and compete with each other in what can only be described as a close knit team of professional athletes. The dynamics between the professional referees, coaches, assistant referees and TMOs were clearly built on honesty and trust, meaning that the best possible results are being delivered on the pitch. We were all grateful for the help and guidance on what we need to do to progress to the highest level we can achieve.”

Volunteer referees there included: Phil Bygrave – Manchester and District Referees Society; Dean Crossley – Basingstoke RFC & Hampshire RFU; Harvey Knight – Loughborough University; Nick Palmer – Gloucester and District Referees Society; Simon O’Neil – Northumberland Referees Society; Matt Sharpe – Hertfordshire Referees Society.

For more information on the Mitsubishi Motors Volunteer Recognition Programme visit www.englandrugby.com/mmvrp